Confirmation held in outdoor pavilion

Bishop Frank J. Dewane bestowed the Sacrament of Confirmation on a group of more than 90 young men and women on Oct. 17, 2020 at the Pioneer Park Pavilion in Zolfo Springs.

The youth were from St. Michael Parish in Wauchula, San Alfonso Mission in Zolfo Springs and Holy Child Mission in Bowling Green.

The alternate location was used to ensure that not only the youth and their sponsors could attend, but also family members. The facility is also used for the annual celebration of Our Lady of a Guadalupe.

Our Lady celebrated in Sarasota

The Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre (Our Lady of Charity of Copper) holds a special place in the heart of Isabel Diaz for Our Lady provides a connection to her heritage as an American-born Cuban.

“This devotion goes back in my family many generations and the stories of the celebrations on this day always bring me great joy,” Diaz explained as she prayed following a Mass dedicated to Our Lady on Sept. 8, 2020 at St. Jude Parish.

St. Jude Pastor, Father Celestino Gutierrez, said the celebration of the Patroness of Cuba was toned-down this year because of the COVID-19 Pandemic. However, the faith of the people was not diminished.

“On Sunday (Sept. 6, 2020), there was a Mass and reception, but it was more a sign of unity versus the large party it has been in the past,” Father Gutierrez said.

A statue of Our Lady was placed on a table in front of the altar for the Masses, flanked by the U.S. and Cuban flags. The image of Our Lady of Charity depicts Mary standing on the moon and surrounded by angels, while holding the Child Jesus, who holds a globe in one hand and raises the other hand in a gesture of blessing. Following the Mass, many remained to pray, leave flowers, or to take photos of or with the statue.

Diaz prayed for “protection and comfort,” during these turbulent times of pandemic and economic difficulties. “It’s what my family used to pray for before they left Cuba many years ago, and what we still all pray for. Our Lady is always there for us.”

Devotion to the Mary under the title of Our Lady of Charity dates to 1612 when two indigenous laborers and a slave boy were on a boat in a fierce storm when they sought the protection of Mary. The storm suddenly calmed and then in the distance they spotted a white bundle floating on a piece of wood. It was a small statue of Mary holding the infant Jesus on her left arm and a gold cross on her raised right hand. Inscribed on the wooden board were the words, “Yo soy la Virgen de la Caridad” (“I am Our Lady of Charity”). Despite being found in the water after a storm, the white material in which the statue was wrapped in remained completely dry.

Our Lady of Charity was declared patroness of Cuba by Pope Benedict XV in 1916. Pope Benedict XVI visited Cuba in 2012, as the Church in the country celebrated the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the statue of Our Lady of Charity. The Holy Father entrusted the future of Cuba to the Blessed Virgin.

Catholic News Service contributed to this report.

Eucharistic Adoration brings one closer to Christ

The First Friday of September was a spiritually emotional day for Bonnie Coyle as it was the first time since March that she participated in Eucharistic Adoration.

Coyle has been a devotee of adoration for many years, finding great comfort in spending quiet time with the Lord in addition to attending Mass. The COVID-19 Pandemic physically separated her, and many others, from the Lord for an extended period and this distressed her greatly.

“I love coming to Mass, but adoration has always been special for me,” Coyle explained. “I just never realized how special it was and how much I would miss it when it wasn’t available. I was worried about coming back for health reasons, so I stayed away even longer. But I am back, and I feel a great relief to again be able to quietly pray before the Lord!”

Coyle was not alone, as many stayed for adoration on Sept. 4, 2020 following the Mass at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Venice.

While public Mass resumed in the Diocese of Venice in late May, adoration followed more slowly as Parishes figured out the best way to do so while still ensuring health and safety protocols were being followed.

Instead of taking place in the Parish Chapel, the Mass and adoration at Our Lady of Lourdes took place in the main Church, thus allowing the 100 or so present plenty of space to participate in both without concern.

The Blessed Sacrament is carried in the back of a pickup truck as part of a vehicle procession from St. Michael Parish in Wauchula to nearby Missions on Sept. 29, 2020 in celebration of the fifth anniversary of the Perpetual Adoration Chapel.

At Parishes throughout the Diocese, the offering of Eucharistic Adoration has required some changes. Most parishes have designated days and times for adoration with many including the First Friday of each month. When possible, Parishes with small Adoration Chapels have created a reservation system for adorers.

The occasion of the fifth anniversary of the Perpetual Adoration Chapel at St. Michael Parish in Wauchula during the ongoing Pandemic led to a unique celebration Aug. 29, 2020.

Parish Administrator Father Oscar Mendoza Moya led a procession of vehicles, while riding in the bed of a pickup truck with the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance. The procession went from the Parish to Holy Child Mission in Bowling Green, then on to San Alfonso Mission in Zolfo Springs, before returning to the Parish. At each location, Father Moya offered a special blessing. The celebration concluded with a Mass of Thanksgiving in the main Church.

Lucinda Perez described the entire evening as amazing. “What a beautiful way to honor Jesus Christ and celebrate the Adoration Chapel and for the Parish and Missions to come together.”

Bishop Frank J. Dewane encouraged the expansion and availability of Adoration in an Aug. 5, 2020 letter to the priests of the Diocese. “This will be of great help and consolation to the Faithful during these turbulent times, when the People of God long to be close to the Lord,” Bishop Dewane wrote.

Pope Francis is a strong proponent of participating in Eucharistic Adoration, describing it as a way of putting the Lord at the center of one’s life. The Holy Father includes adoration in many public celebrations. Most notably, on March 27, 2020 Pope Francis presided over the Eucharistic Adoration before he imparted the “Urbi et Orbi” blessing from outside St. Peter’s Basilica, before the empty square where he usually has the general audience.

Please contact your local Parish for the latest Eucharistic Adoration schedule.

Sacrament of Confirmation resumes for Diocesan youth

Frida Castillo and Maria Ramos are close friends who were among nearly 70 to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation on Sept. 5, 2020 at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish in LaBelle.

Frida said she felt a weight had been lifted from her shoulders when Bishop Frank J. Dewane made the sign of the cross on her forehead with Sacred Chrism while saying: “Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Maria felt serene after the Rite. “I am at peace, and so happy to now be a full member of the Church.”

The Sacrament was originally scheduled to be conferred on the Our Lady Queen of Heaven youth by Bishop Dewane shortly after Easter, but the global COVID-19 Pandemic caused a frustrating delay for this group and many others.

“We were so ready,” Frida said. “We worked for two years to get to this point and then we had to wait with no idea how long.”

The final preparation was completed virtually in the spring, and then refresher classes and a mini retreat took place in August. There were two Masses to accommodate the large group. Only the confirmandi and their sponsors were permitted in the Church while family watched from the Parish Hall with everyone wearing face coverings.

The Confirmation Rite at Our Lady of Queen of Heaven was the first in what will be a series of such occasions to be celebrated by Bishop Dewane throughout the Diocese in the coming months. These will include all rescheduled Confirmations from the spring and ones already planned for the fall.

This Sacrament imbues the recipient with the Holy Spirit, making the person an advocate for the Lord, Bishop Dewane said. “This becomes a permanent part of who you are. Live your faith to the fullest. Use these Gifts of the Holy Spirit every day. They must become part of who you are. The more you use them, the closer you will grow to the Lord.”

The Sacrament should not be viewed as the end of the journey, but the continuation of the journey of faith with the new dimension of the Holy Spirit.

“This is the time that you give witness to who you are as followers of Jesus Christ,” Bishop Dewane said. “It is part of your faith journey to live the commitment of believers, a beginning of a new life in the Holy Spirit and to become more the man or woman of God you are called to be.”

Before the Sacred Chrism was administered, the Bishop asked the candidates to renew their baptismal promises as a sign of their personal assent to the faith. This is the candidates assent to their belief in Christ and His Church. The Bishop also extended his hands over the candidates during the Rite. This action is called, “The Laying on of Hands.” In this action, the Bishop imparts the Holy Spirit upon the candidates, completing the grace of their baptism.

After each Mass, the Bishop posed for pictures with each of newly confirmed and family in the Parish Hall.

Calling All Volunteers!

Each Thursday nearly 200 vehicles line up to receive food from the Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. Food Pantry at St. Margaret Parish in Clewiston.

Six dedicated volunteers worked with masks and gloves in the heat for about three hours on Aug. 6, 2020 to ensure every family left with food. Afterwards was the clean-up, which included: breaking up boxes, storing tables, reviewing paperwork, planning for the next week, etc. That is also the time when supplies are checked so orders can be placed to ensure there will be enough to meet demand and the food on hand is organized and prepared for distribution the following week.

The line of vehicles has remained consistently long since March when the COVID-19 Pandemic began, and families started to lose work. Clewiston is a rural community on the southern shore of Lake Okeechobee which relies heavily on farming for work. However, that work is seasonal, and the next planting won’t begin for several months.

The Aug. 6 distribution was made more challenging when a delivery truck arrived just as the cars were lining up. This split volunteers into separate groups.

Yolanda Placencia checked families in, handed out bags of food and got more supplies from the storeroom. Determined to help as much as she could, she hopes more people volunteer, even if it is for an hour. “I know others would feel the same joy I have knowing what little I am doing is brightening the faces of these families.”

Mike Vega supervises the Catholic Charities Office in Clewiston and is based in Fort Myers, said the need for volunteers is growing. Volunteers are needed to safely distribute food, assist with the set-up, clean-up, organize donations, bag food, help with paperwork; and much more. Gloves and masks are provided to everyone.

“We have been at a breakneck pace, but many of the people we counted on in the past are not able to help because they are in at-risk categories,” Vega explained.

Catholic Charities CEO Philomena Pereira said that without volunteers the organization would be unable to continue to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic. The six food pantries throughout the Diocese distributed food to more than 20,000 individuals in July, and more than 75,000 since late March, more than triple the normal amount.

“There is no end in sight, and in fact the demand is growing,” Pereira said. “We are looking for volunteers at all locations. Loading cars, doing paperwork, we need help.”

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer with Catholic Charities is asked to contact Joan Pierce at 844-385-2407 or joan.pierce@catholiccharitiesdov.org.

Drive-thru blessing inspires

During a recent downpour, the faithful of St. Michael Parish in Wauchula patiently lined up in their vehicles to be closer to the Lord.

Father Oscar Mendoza, Administrator of St. Michael, led a drive-thru blessing on July 25, 2020, with the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Father Mendoza stood in the rain, with the monstrance safely under an umbrella, and offered a blessing as each vehicle paused.

“At the beginning, the idea of ​​blessing families with the Blessed Sacrament was to replicate what was done a few months ago, visiting house to house and covering as much area as possible,” said Father Mendoza while explaining what actions were taken while the Parish Church was closed due the COVID-19 Pandemic.

While the Church is open for Mass, Father said there are some elderly, sick, or those who were still in fear due to the Pandemic that are staying away from Church.

Understanding the concern, Father Mendoza consulted with Bishop Frank J. Dewane about options for the public to participate in Adoration, but in a new format.

“This time it was more meaningful for families, thanks to the suggestion of the Bishop to be outside the church,” Father Mendoza explained. “In fact, it was a success. Many faithful came to the blessing despite the heavy rain that afternoon, which I called a ‘Rain-down of Blessings.’”

Father began by setting up an appropriate outside altar where he could pray before the Blessed Sacrament. While wearing a mask, Father carried Jesus forward in a monstrance to be closer to the faithful who remained in their vehicles.

“At that moment, and with great emotion, I could perceive that the individuals and families who received the blessing were deeply moved by His presence and continued on their way with great gratitude and joy in their hearts,” Father said. Some people were brought to tears while others sought specific prayers for family members who are struggling because of the Pandemic, whether they are ill, in fear, or out of work.

Father Mendoza said he plans to have another drive-thru blessing. “This act of faith could be promoted, since the faithful are hungry and thirsty for God, especially in this uncertain time when they cannot participate in Mass as before due to the pandemic.”

News briefs for the week of Aug. 3, 2020

Band camp takes place

Maintaining social distance while keeping in rhythm is the new challenge for participants in the Bishop Verot Catholic High School Band Camp in the last week of July 2020. Participants are learned new routines to be incorporated into performances during the coming year.

Spiritual Exercises for Spanish Movement lay leaders

During the month of July, some lay members of the Spanish-language Diocesan Directors of the Apostolic Movements had the opportunity to participate in Ignatian Spiritual Exercises at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice. These exercises have been proposed by the Church as a true school of spiritual life. The groups were divided between men and women to ensure social distancing was maintained.

Year of Saint Joseph

Stained glass window at St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Moore Haven.

On the Solemnity of St. Joseph, March 19, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, in the context of the Coronavirus, consecrated the Diocese of Venice to the care and protection of St. Joseph. The Bishop announced a “Year of St. Joseph” beginning March 19, 2020 through March 19, 2021. St. Joseph, often referred to as the Protector, can be our protector during this time of the pandemic. To pray a Novena to St. Joseph please visit the Year of St. Joseph webpage at https://dioceseofvenice.org/a-year-of-st-joseph/.

Dispensation

While the celebration of public Mass resumed May 18, 2020, Bishop Frank J. Dewane announced that the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains in effect through Sept. 1, 2020 for those who are at greater risk or anxious about returning at this time. The Faithful ought not to worry about remaining home if they are concerned for their wellbeing or that of other parishioners. Of course, those who are sick or have symptoms associated with COVID-19 are to stay home. Please check the Diocese of Venice website for any updates.

Livestreaming

The Diocese of Venice will continue livestreaming the Mass through the Diocese website (www.dioceseofvenice.org) and Facebook pages from the Catholic Center in Venice 9:15 a.m. daily as the dispensation to attend Mass remains.

Sunday Televised Mass

The Televised Mass for the Homebound is available throughout the Diocese each Sunday. In northern parts of the Diocese (Manatee, Highlands, Hardee, Sarasota, DeSoto and Charlotte counties) the Mass airs on television at 9:30 a.m. on the CW Network. In the southern portions of the Diocese (Collier, Lee, Glades, Hendry, Charlotte counties) the Mass airs at 10:30 a.m., on WFTX-TV (FOX-4). This same Mass can be found on the Diocese of Venice website at any time during the week, www.dioceseofvenice.org/tvmass. Please check local listings for channel information.

Parish donations

During this challenging time in the life and mission of the Diocese of Venice, our Parishes face increased risk of financial shortfalls due to the COVID-19 Pandemic and its effects on everyday life. Parishes depend on weekly financial gifts to continue their ministries, especially in this critical time of crisis. The Diocese of Venice is providing an online platform and encourages the Faithful to support their Parish. Please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/ways-to-give/parish-donations-online/ to donate to your Parish. The Faithful may also contribute through usual channels (e.g., envelopes, and through the Parish online giving option). Together we will navigate through this crisis, provide assistance to those in need, and secure the road ahead for the Parishes within the Diocese of Venice.

Online Resources

A special coronavirus webpage is located on the Diocese of Venice website at www.dioceseofvenice.org. Resources include links to the Mass, the prayer for an Act of the Spiritual Communion, videos of the Stations of the Cross, Divine Mercy Chaplet and Pray the Rosary. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops website, www.usccb.org, also posts the daily Mass readings.

Act of Spiritual Communion

It has long been a Catholic understanding that when circumstances prevent one from receiving Holy Communion, it is possible to make an Act of Spiritual Communion which is a source of grace. Spiritual Communion means uniting one’s self in prayer with Christ’s sacrifice and worshiping Him in His Body and Blood.

The most common reason for making an Act of Spiritual Communion is when a person cannot attend Mass, as is the case during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Acts of Spiritual Communion increase our desire to receive sacramental Communion and help us avoid the sins that would make us unable to receive Holy Communion worthily.

For all who will not be able to receive the Holy Eucharist in person, consider this special prayer, an Act of Spiritual Communion:

My Jesus,
I believe that You
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,

and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there

and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.
Amen.

Faith Formation in Spanish completes third cycle

The final phase of an intensive three-year Spanish-language Faith Formation Program concluded in June 2020 with 358 earning a Diocesan certificate of completion. In the three years of the program a total of more than 1,300 earned certificates.

A faith formation class in Spanish takes place Jan. 28, 2020 at Sacred Heart Parish in Bradenton.

With the support of Bishop Frank J. Dewane and Diocese Hispanic Ministries Director Father Claudio Stewart, the Spanish Faith Formation Program sessions were developed immediately following the local consultation process of the V Encuentro in 2016 and 2017.

The results were overwhelmingly positive as the program has shown there is a real desire for Hispanic Catholics to be formed in their Faith. The 2019-2020 sessions, which covered the “History and Tradition of the Church,” were interrupted by the COVID-19 Pandemic. However, thanks to technology, the final sessions of instruction were available and completed online.

The V Encuentro was a multi-year outreach initiated by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, with a goal of discerning ways for the Church in the U.S. to better respond to the needs of the ever-growing Hispanic presence. The process involved consultations at the Parish, Diocesan, regional and national levels. A final report was submitted to the Vatican in September 2019 with recommendations for inclusive action at all levels of the Church in the U.S. and are in the process of being implemented.

The idea behind the initial three-step Spanish Faith Formation Program within the Diocese was to quickly help bridge the gap in formation for Hispanics in the Diocese for whom English is not their first language. This gap had created an isolation among some, and the program became empowering to Hispanic Catholics who often felt they were outsiders in the Catholic Church within the U.S., primarily due to the language difference.

Father Carlos Reyes, Scalabrinian, Pastor of Our Lady Guadalupe Parish in Immokalee, leads a faith formation class in Spanish on Feb. 24, 2020 in Immokalee.

The benefit of having the formation program in Spanish was to allow the participants the opportunity to better absorb the complexities of the Faith without the extra work of translating the information. This also helped streamline the instruction and allowed a more open discussion.

The formation program provided a structured and ongoing formation of the lay people with the goal of allowing people to be in contact with the Deposit of Faith (Depositum Fidei) – Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture. At the conclusion of the processes, those who earned the certificates are encouraged to use their new-found knowledge to evangelize in their Parish community.

The Faith Formation classes were divided into four geographic regions of the Diocese to allow easier access to the courses. Instructors included 10 priests and two women religious. Each level became increasingly sophisticated, challenging the participants to take a fresh look at the Catholic Church.

The first phase in 2017-18 focused on the “Magisterium,” with a thorough explanation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The second course in 2018-19 was dedicated to the “Revelation and Introduction to the Sacred Scriptures.” The third course, which was completed in June, covered the “History and Tradition of the Church.”

Father Stewart has reaffirmed that while the initial three-part program is completed, there is more in the planning process for expanding Hispanic Faith Formation within the Diocese. However, the ongoing pandemic has caused delays in implementing those plans.

Other actions taken since the local V Encuentro sessions have encouraged a broader outreach and inclusion in existing Parish and Diocesan events. This means having sessions in Spanish at conferences, bilingual programs, and other steps that will help unify the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Venice. As this is the focus of Dioceses across the country, the goal is to create a stronger Catholic Church in the U.S.

“There is not supposed to be a separate Faith for English speakers versus Spanish speakers,’ Father Stewart explained. “We are all part of the same Universal Church – founded by Jesus Christ.”

To learn more about other Diocese of Venice initiative through the Hispanic Ministries Office, please email pastoralhispana@dioceseofvenice.org, or visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/offices/offices-departments/hispanic-apostolate.

Pandemic causes crisis for victims of human trafficking

The worst nightmare of a human being who has been trafficked is of the possibility of getting caught in that dark world once again. Rescue, stability and confidence allow these victims to transition into a productive life of self-sufficiency free from fear.

Add the COVID-19 Pandemic into the mix and many who were far along in the process into leading a “normal” life free from fear, are now at high risk of being trafficked again.

“All at once, everyone was in crisis mode, even those we thought were doing well,” explained Erika Pineros, Catholic Charities Anti Human Trafficking Assistance Program Director. “They were already vulnerable, then everyone lost their job.”

Local, state and federal programs designed to assist people during the Pandemic are not available to most survivors of human trafficking primarily because of immigration documentation issues or a past criminal history that was part of their victimization, Pineros added. “That is where Catholic Charities steps in.”

There are currently 63 clients now being assisted by the Catholic Charities program. While that number may seem high, it is average, the difference, of course, is that instead of a portion of that number being phased into self-sufficiency, all 63 are now in crisis. While they are all not recently rescued survivors, some are seeking help for the first time in two years and they are in desperate need of emergency assistance to prevent homelessness and starvation.

The Anti Human Trafficking Assistance Program provides clients with food and clothing; shelter at a safe distance from the site of the exploitation and transitional housing; coordination of medical services; supportive counseling and further mental health services as needed; orientation to state and federal laws and benefits; assistance with benefit applications; coordination of educational and English as a second language (ESL) services; liaison with law enforcement and immigration service providers; as well as coordination with various community agencies for other required services.

Catholic Charities has some transitional housing it operates, but those units are full, Pineros said. “The demand is always high, so we try to make arrangements for other shelter, but the Pandemic is limiting the number of people at shelters and other transitional housing locations thus decreasing the options.”

Survivors enter the program with nothing, and most can only work jobs in the service industry where the pay is not very good, Pineros added. In normal times, when a job doesn’t work out or they face some other obstacle, there are other options.

An attendee points to a sign as women religious from around the world gather in Rome Sept. 21-27, 2019, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Talitha Kum, an international network of religious women fighting against human trafficking. (CNS photo/courtesy International Union of Superiors General)

“Now they feel like they are back to square one because they don’t know from where the next job will come or what their future holds,” Pineros said. “They are now isolated, and many are very afraid of being caught up in trafficking again.”

That fear is real and the need for mental health counseling because of renewed mental trauma has dramatically increased. While in-person counseling is ideal, it is not possible during the Pandemic. These services have transitioned into video- or tele-mental health. To participate, clients often need added assistance to have access to smart devices, or even how to use them.

Pineros said her team of three has been assisting in helping the survivors non-stop and immediate need is money to pay bills.

While the program receives grants to help victims of human trafficking, there are restrictions on what it can be used for.

“The money people give to Catholic Charities and directly to our program, gives us the flexibility to make a real difference,” Pineros said. “Right now, there is no light at the end of the tunnel for these survivors. They are living day-by-day and week-to-week. We are trying to get them through this crisis, but we need more help because human trafficking doesn’t discriminate, and it isn’t going away.”

To support the Catholic Charities, please visit www.catholiccharitiesdov.org and to learn more about the Anti Human Trafficking Assistance Program, you can contact Erika Pineros at erika.pineros@catholiccharitiesdov.org.

News briefs for week of July 20 2020

Mary statue stolen from Sebring Parish

A statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary was stolen from St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Sebring on Monday, July 13, 2020. It is not known why the statue was stolen, but the Church is asking for its return, or information of its whereabouts. The statue, which weighs about 200 pounds and was recently restored with fresh paint, has been located as part of a Memorial Rosary Garden in front of the Church for the past five years. It is valued at approximately $1,000. The theft follows the destruction of a statue of St. Francis of Assisi on the St. Catherine Church property which took place on June 26, 2020. St. Catherine Pastor, Father Jose Gonzalez, said both incidents are deeply disturbing and upsetting for the Faith community. Police reports have been filed in both cases. While it is unknown why the statues were targeted, it cannot be ignored that many such religious symbols have been vandalized or damaged nationwide in response to the recent social unrest. Anyone with information regarding these crimes is asked to contact the Sebring Police Department.

Beautification project transforms Parish

The faithful of St. Michael Parish in Wauchula recently assisted in a Parish beautification project in early July. The Parish Church and other buildings were power-washed and received a fresh coat of paint. Various landscaping work was also completed. The “Let’s Beautify the Parish!” initiative encourage people to share ideas and support the efforts as well as assist in the work.

Ordination to the Permanent Diaconate Aug. 15

Bishop Frank J. Dewane will ordain to the Permanent Diaconate seven men at 11 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020 at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. The candidates are: Jeffrey Ball of Ave Maria Parish, Ave Maria; Enrique (Rick) Castro of St. Cecilia Parish, Fort Myers; Ramiro Hernandez of St. Michael Parish, Wauchula; Jack W. Milholland Jr. of Our Lady of the Angels Parish, Lakewood Ranch; Roberto Pagán of Jesus the Worker Parish, Fort Myers; Vern W. Smith of St. Martha Parish, Sarasota; and Dr. William Soscia of St. Joseph Parish, Bradenton. A reception in the Parish Hall will follow. All are invited and encouraged to attend.

Support After Abortion Virtual Conference

Join the Support After Abortion Healing Network Virtual Conference 2020: Building and Strengthening Abortion Healing Worldwide – Thursday, July 30 to Saturday, August 1.  See and hear online over 40 presenters: clergy, authors, curriculum leaders and those who have been impacted by abortion as they share their wisdom, insights and personal stories. Don’t be surprised that Support After Abortion resides in the Diocese of Venice and some of the presenters live here as well. There is no charge to watch any of the presentations during the three-day virtual conference by visiting www.supportafterabortionvirtualconference.com/home. See the website for a premium upgrade for access to each of the presentations for 90 days. (NOTE: Any priest interested in a free 90-day premium pass – a $49.99 value – can request one by e-mailing Berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org or calling 941-374-1068.)

First Communion face masks donated by sewing group

The Sewing Group of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Naples donated 200 white masks for use at Mass by First Communicants and their families on July 11, 2020. The Faith Formation team facilitated the masks for the boys and girls as well as their families. Two Mass were necessary for all of the children as all social distancing rules were also followed.

 

 

 

Parish provides gift cards

St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs recently donated $25 Publix gift cards to families who were using the emergency Catholic Charities Food Pantry. The pantry, which has been in operation in Bonita Springs since the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic, is open one day a week and provides emergency food for needy families impacted by the Pandemic. The gift cards were distributed to 200 families to help supplement the food they were receiving and were made possible through the generosity of the parishioners and Father Jarek Sniosek, Pastor of St. Leo.

3D face shield project update

The first phase of a STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, arts, math) 3D printing project to provide face shields to frontline workers has been a huge success. So far 100 already been delivered for use by Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. staff and volunteers at food pantry distribution sites. The project was the idea of Jennifer Falsetiny, Curriculum Specialist for the Diocese Department of Education. The goal is to turn the Camillus Project into an ongoing club for schools to participate so as to give back to the community while providing solutions to a real-world problem. The plan is to re-launch the program again in the new school year to hopefully get more schools involved in the hands-on STREAM 3D printing service project.

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